Why I Marched

As I rang in the New Year just weeks ago I’m not sure I have ever been happier to say Goodbye to the year. 2016 was tumultuous, looking back it was rough for myself personally, for various reasons, and for the world.  The new President of the United States was of course probably the biggest talking point of the year and unfortunately we are still talking about him. When I saw there was a Women’s March taking place on Saturday 21st January, to coincide with the inauguration, I really could not miss out. It was my first so I was a little nervous as to what it would be like but mostly I was beyond excited. One of my best friends agreed to come with me (I compensated her with an extra hot Starbucks and large cookie to say thank you for braving the freezing temperatures) and the day exceeded my expectations. The atmosphere was like the best day of a festival, bright sunshine and blue skies (albeit baltic), smiling faces and a sense of comradery. There was music, singing dancing and by far the star of the day were the amazing signs. They were for the most part (aside from a couple of ‘Fuck Trump’ ones) based around kindness, humour, fantastic puns and with a sense of lightheartedness, but with a very serious underlying message.

When people ask why did you go? The answer is very simple, to show solidarity. Not only am I a feminist, which is reason enough to go considering the disgusting, derogatory way he speaks about woman and the dangerous views he has on issues such as abortion, but I am environmentally conscious and a believer that as human beings we are all equal. To say you don’t believe in climate change is like someone saying they believe the earth is flat, last year was the hottest year on record and the damage we are doing is unimaginable. To say you are going to ban an entire group of people because they are Muslim from a nation that is supposed to be the land of the free is scary, I’m proud to have friends from all Religions and backgrounds and even more proud to be involved in their life and their culture, including being a part of two Muslim weddings as a honourary  bridesmaid. To say that a complete nation of people are rapists and you are going to build a wall to separate yourselves from them is ridiculous. To quote one of the great signs from the day and to put it in the most British way possible ‘I’m really quite cross about this’.

The marches amounted to an estimated 5,000,000 people globally, with sister marches taking place on every single continent (yes Antarctica represented). That number is astounding, there were also no arrests made at any of the marches. However, I will openly admit however that there was a vast majority of people in attendance, white women, which could explain the police approach to the day and has caused some controversy and criticism since the marches. I think what is important to take from the event is that it was about coming together and standing up for what we believe to be right, men, women, children, trans, gay, Muslim, Christian and so on and so on. There will always be criticisms about any event and there will always be improvements to be made. Having done my first march I have the confidence now to seek out any more and help wherever I can, I hope that is what people can take from it so it is not just the veteran activists who have been stomping streets for years making a difference but the young people who now know the affect something they take part in can have.

I will leave you with this, Trump means fart in Great Britain #PresidentFart, nuff said.

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An Evening of Fashion and Pure Inspo

It’s Friday! And the sun is shining, normally friday would involve some form of treat often in the form of a coconut milk latte or if i’m feeling really cheeky a soy pumpkin spice latte, naughty, this morning however it’s aloe vera gel, but hey not complaining.  This week I have gone from feeling heartbroken, standing in the shower crying whilst listening to the morning news, which sounded more like a narrated doomsday book, to feeling inspired and grateful.

I attended Hubdot Piazza of Fashion in association with The Pool (one of my absolute daily reads) it was a social event with flowing wine and neat canapes where guests are able to interact with one another and enjoy short and sweet stories by the evening’s speakers. Followed by an open mic session where anyone can take hold of the mic and tell their story in a 60 second slot, scary I know right, however everyone that spoke deserved their round of applause and cheers. The operative word at a Hubdot event is ‘story’, as Simona Barbieri  described during the introduction, you don’t ask people what they do, instead ask ‘what’s your story’ combined with the 5 dot system  you can meet new people and find out about them without the stigma of job titles. Depending on which colour you choose you can be matched with like minded individuals or other guests, who can help you in some way.

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It was held at Anthropologie, Regent Street store and as I approached the doors my heart was in my throat, I was sweating, hands were shaking, pure nerves. As it was my first event I had no idea what to expect, just walked in stripped as much RBF (Resting Bitch Face) away to produce a wide smile and hoped I could be somewhat charming through the sweat. I met a lady who immediately made me feel at ease and we headed upstairs for a well deserved vino. After a short while of meeting new faces the stories began and honestly I wasn’t prepared for how great they were. I had to take a step back and look around the room and just take in the power of the women surrounding me, if that doesn’t make a girl feel inspired I don’t know what will.

Highlights, if I had to choose, Sam Baker, Co-Founder, CEO and Editor of The Pool (one hell of a job title), explaining how she got to be where she is and how The Pool came to be, in a brief nutshell she was “tired of tw*ts”, she wanted to create something that truly spoke to women and my god has she done that. Orsola de Castro Founder and Director of Fashion Revolution  and her beautiful story of the shoes on her feet, handmade in Venice, over 80 years old and had made their way through three generations in her family. Lastly, Denise Tylerson on her recovery from cancer and the power of a wig to help someone build their strength and how you should “never let anyone tell you fashion is trivial”. Of course this doesn’t take away from any women that took the stage that evening, all were simply wonderful.

I walked out the door and headed home with one hell of a spring in my step and the feeling is still going strong, definitely my Girlboss moment for the week.  We are in difficult times, protests still fill the streets of New York as we all come to terms with the shocking results of this week but it is events, organisations and people like those I met, saw, listened to on Wednesday that help you realise what’s still good.

 

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Hubdot Piazza Of Fashion – 9th November – Sam Baker

Trump Wins

I was trying to think of a witty title to accompany this post but unfortunately I seem to have completely lost my sense of humour today. I am in shock still.

I keep forgetting about the God awful news ringing around the world this morning and then it hits me like a dump truck. 8 years ago the word ringing so true was Hope, the feeling of experiencing America’s first African-American president was like no other. Today the word ringing so true is Fear; fear for any minority in America, fear for any Muslim in America, fear for any immigrant in America, fear for any woman in America.

We saw the wave of abuse around our country when we (I say we as in the UK, not referring to myself) voted to leave the EU, choosing the mystery box over stability. I can’t imagine what is going to happen now across America, movements like Black Lives Matter are going to have an even harder task reducing racial discrimination and violence. Hillary Clinton was one of the leaders in pushing for gender equality, closing the gender pay gap and giving women and girls every opportunity they deserve to choose the life they want to lead. I reckon you should strap on your corsets girls and get to pie making as that is the America Trump represents.

Now more than ever work has to be done to fix the horrific effect this election has had on the country, I can’t believe future generations are going to walk into history class one day and learn about the 45th President of the United States, a reality TV personality who was born with more money that most can even comprehend and whose language throughout his election campaign (and life should I say) was hideous. I’m sure they’ll be shaking their heads just as much as we are now, wondering what the fu*k happened?

I’m going to stay hopeful, let’s just think of Obama and continue to Hope that all his talk is just that, let’s hope he is all talk no action.

One last thing, Madam President Michelle Obama 2020?

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Cheer Up Luv

Put your hands up if you’ve ever been told any of the following, ‘Cheer up love’, ‘Smile’, ‘Turn that frown upside down’…. I wonder how it makes you feel? Well for me it’s infuriating to say the least. I suffer from a commonly know issue called Resting Bitch Face (RBF), it affects 1 in 8 women and is an epidemic spreading the globe*. Girls that don’t naturally have a smile on their face all the time, is an absolute travesty huh? How dare you not look smiley happy and like Belle from Beauty and the Beast all the time?

My main issue isn’t not that random strangers, colleagues, associates (I don’t say friends as no friends of mine would ever tell me to smile in a patronising way) are concerned for your well being and are trying to cheer you up, my issue is that I implore you to give me an example of when this has been said to a man. Can’t think of one, didn’t think so. Hillary Clinton Democratic US Presidential candidate for the upcoming election suffers a barrage of  criticism, ‘she wears too many pant suits’, ‘how can we trust her’, ‘how could she stay with her husband after what he did’. Of course her smiling is one of these talking points, even going as far as Joe Scarborough (US TV Host) telling her to ‘Smile. You just had a big night.’  Luckily more and more feminist issues are being addressed in the very main stream media and Chelsea Handler dealt with this particular issue like a complete #girlboss by simply saying please stop asking women and girls to smile,  in defense Clinton.

I had months of comments from a certain colleague as I walked through the office eventually resulting in a simple (even more) stern look and her finally getting the point that at 9.27am on a Monday morning the absolute last thing I want to hear is ‘Smile darling’. Sod off really, you have no idea whether I am thinking about what to have for breakfast or the well being of a family member.

To all those out there who insist on vocalising this to women and girls the next time you see one walking down the street not smiling, maybe just do something as simple as smile at them, no words, just a kind gesture and I’m pretty sure you’ll receive one in return. I smile when I’m with my friends, I smile when I’m decorating the Christmas tree, I smile when I’m having a braai** in the garden surrounded by my family and pets. So to Joe Blogs on the tube who thinks I need to smile more as ‘I’m prettier when I smile’, I’m alright with you not thinking I’m pretty at all then trying to please you sweetheart.

Smile for yourself girl and no one else.

: ) – Smiley Face

*FYI completely made up

**FYI South African term for BBQ

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Exhibit A) Resting Bitch Face and an extremely rare selfie

 

 

Veggie – Day One 

Today is the first day of Lent for all those who don’t know, it marks the start of 40 days of ‘fasting’ in modern terms this means giving up something for this period of time, most often it is chocolate, sweets etc. However, I have been contemplating making the change to a fully fledged vegetarian for a little while now and as I have always taken part in Lent I thought what better than to give up meat, if I do well this will be the start of a life of vegetarianism (potentially one day veganism, working up to that). Day one and going strong, chilli bean burgers and salad for dinner, not forgetting the all important Tabasco addition. In life I wouldn’t call myself a meat eater as I only eat meat maybe twice a week and when I do it is pretty much chicken or minced beef, when cooking though I use meat substitutes (Quorn) or a filling vegetable such as lentils. Reason being I simply don’t enjoy the taste and can’t get the cruel treatment of most farm animals out of my head a lot of the time. Funny thing is, I don’t believe humans shouldn’t necessarily eat meat, controversial I know. What I believe we as humans have to understand is that we are one greedy species, we treat animals and our land like disposable objects, this over consumption of meat and fad foods is causing an issue we can’t ignore. 

WWF has reported on the environmental impact the demand for Soy products is having on the land and wildlife, as it is now an ‘it’ drink amongst ladies what brunch, the suppliers simply can’t keep up. Have you also ever heard the phrase ‘No meaty, no eaty’ simply meaning, if there is no meat in my food I won’t eat it, ridiculous. If everyone vowed to have say 2 days without meat, think about the strain taken off the need for animal products, if supermarkets scrapped their unrealistic demands for products which are perfect enough for the shelves, we wouldn’t see farmers throwing away tonnes of perfectly good produce and if people took more care about where their food was coming from and sourcing where possible from local butchers or produce stalls, we would see more money go back into local businesses. 

If you ask me it’s an all around win, I recently posted about the wastefulness of fast fashion which is a relatively new situation we face, wasting food and causing the inhumane deaths of animals and unforgivable waste of food is not to so new and yet we aren’t changing, so why don’t you try it take on the 2 day meat free challenge #2daychallenge. 

The True Cost – A Review

Well it’s been a while! When life happens I guess other things get pushed aside as much as you don’t want them to, I do wonder about packing it all in selling everything and travelling and writing,  but that’s probably another story.

I managed to find time to watch a film that I was highly anticipating the release of, a documentary called The True Cost. Directed by Andrew Morgan, it is a film about the impact the new culture of fast fashion is having on our planet and the people behind the clothes. It’s a brilliant insight into the industry itself as well as first hand interviews with workers, including those involved in the tragic Rana Plaza disaster, factory owners and some of the people and companies who are trying to stop fast fashion, like Eco-Age.

I’ll be honest I buy into fast fashion, ashamed to say it. What I think when buying a new item of clothing which helps me feel that bit more confident, that bit better about myself is that it’s worth it, however would I be willing to pay a bit more for this, yes. In some instances a pay rise for some factory workers would mean the equivalent of a few cents added onto the price of a T-Shirt. But it’s not just about the money it’s also about the unbelievable impact on our planet. It takes the UK 10 minutes to throw away 7 tonnes of clothing; clothing which can’t be recycled, it will sit in a landfill polluting the land, not to mention the damage caused to the earth to just make the clothes in the first place. 

The film is well shot, narrated and beautifully edited and it will make you consider that £9 Cami. I’ll never stop buying clothes, however my tactics will change now, I will continue to turn to vintage clothing, reusing old clothes whether it be from my parents cupboards or the local charity shop or Beyond Retro. I also want to make a conscious effort to turn to responsible clothing instead of what’s convenient. As a nation we are wasteful, food gets thrown away without a second thought and now we are doing the same for the clothes. It’s up to the consumer to say to companies, we will buy carrots that aren’t the prettiest (side note, I also recommend a show called Hugh’s War on Waste, it illustrates just how much edible food is unused especially by chain supermarkets) and we will spend a few pounds more on clothing if it means an actual livable wage for someone and a safe working environment. This won’t happen overnight but to quote one of these guilty supermarkets ‘Every little helps!’ 

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Photo Credit @truecostmovie Instagram

Hot Feminist By Polly Vernon – Review

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Available from Amazon £10.49

So I’m back and bronzed from my Summer olibob in Hvar, Croatia, copious amounts of wine, great food and good times. I’d just like to note it is baltic, I am longing to dig out my black tights and jumpers now that Autumn has officially reared its ugly head. During my ten days of bliss I was accompanied by 7 friends and of course one of my Summer reads, this being Hot Feminist by Polly Vernon.

Polly Vernon is a columnist and style writer with a sharp tongue and sharp wit who rose to infamy with a controversial article on being thin….. and yes I am a curvy girl and no I don’t hate her. The book covers serious issues surrounding women’s rights but it’s an easy read in a sense that I felt I was sat in a living room with PV having a conversation about all the topics within the book.

Do I agree with every single thing she believes? No. For example, I don’t really appreciate cat calling or being called a chick, however one brilliant point PV makes is to pick your battles. As a feminist, your opinions and beliefs will always be questioned and argued by both women and men alike, I think the thing to remember is to know your argument and be prepared to debate when necessary and to not get riled up by the unnecessary.

I found myself regularly chuckling to the greatly described anecdotes (personal favourite is a 3 page description of the process of the leg shave), getting very involved in the various debates which take place between PV and her friends and inspired by her attitude. Don’t get me wrong, within the comical stories and remarks, there are also facts which will shock as well as a chapter on PV’s own experience of an attempted sexual assault which is deeply disturbing but empowering at the same time.

It is perfect for anyone who finds themself to be a feminist but doesn’t necessarily want to pick up a Virginia Woolf or Germaine Greer book, it’s well written, accessible and by the end had me feeling pretty good, pretty much like I would be pretty happy to share a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc with Polly Vernon, well worth the read.

 

Career Girl Goals

Do you know just how differently men and women are paid?

When you’re in the office, ask your male counterpart what his salary is, firstly you’ll notice the sheer disdain that you dare break the boundary of work decorum, then if he answers you can do the math. Women have been entitled to equal pay since the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970, however there are still major issues 45 years on. The gender pay gap is still at 9.4% (Office for National Statistics, November 2014), which is actually an improvement of 0.6% compared to the previous year. David Cameron’s call this year to put more pressure on large firms to disclose their data is a welcome break as it is completely down to the companies ‘discretion’ as to how much they pay their staff.

Of course as a career girl myself I know I have to work harder and speak louder and be that ever bit more careful than my male colleagues. Is my blouse just slightly see through? Is my skirt too tight? If a woman gets promotion…… ‘Sleeping with boss ay?’ We’ve all heard it, there’s no denying. So reaching breaking those boundaries and reaching that career goal as women is more important than ever, whilst also having the added pressure of the size of your waist, marital status and the ticking clock within your ovaries. However, being the best at multi tasking, boy do women know how to do it.

For any woman you need goals in life, whatever those goals may be and here are some of my top career girls –

Annie MacManus (DJ)

I could start with Beyoncé or Angelina Jolie but I take my female role models a little differently. Born in Dublin and at 37 years old she has an ever growing empire, having started BBC Radio 1 in 2004 she has now recently taken over for Zane Lowe, making it 5 nights a week on (my opinion) the best radio station in the world. As well as this her AMP tour spans from Coachella to Glastonbury to Ibiza. All the while raising her young son with her partner, artist Toddla T. The curly hair, addictive personality and perfectly executed craft make her quite the lady.

Stella McCartney 

Famous surname or not she is one of the best designers, (first making her mark as the Creative Director for Chloé 1997) as well as being British she is a firm animal rights activist and refuses to use any fur or leather in her collections. A lifelong vegetarian and supporter of PETA, married with four children, an all round Wonder Woman.

Carol Jean Pentland (Mother to this lucky kid) 

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania she left Steeler nation and worked travelling the world eventually meeting her future husband. They had 2 children in a picturesque house in Johannesburg, before settling in England. Even with the odd judgmental look from other mothers when picking up her kids from school, straight from work, in a pencil skirt, heels and blazer with shoulder pads you could only envy, she was successful in work and now academia earning herself a top degree with highly credited work. Not to shabby I’d say.

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Success (For Now) – Vote on The Hunting Act Postponed

Safe to say I am an animal lover of all sorts, whether it be my two cats, who after any bad day tend to be the only thing to put a smile on my face or holding snakes the size of me (practically) at my cousins house as a child. The sight of any form of animal cruelty or animal in pain brings a tear to my eye faster than I can control, so to hear the news today that the vote on reprieving the Hunting Act has been postponed is simply great news, not the best I might add but it’s a huge success. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll see my many tweets on anything from containment of dolphins to fox hunting and it’s great to know that everyone’s hard work on stopping the lift of the ban has come to fruition.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, say what you will about her but she has made some considerable waves, both positive and negative (I personally am against an independent Scotland, however this is a whole different conversation). The SNP stated that they wouldn’t vote if it was matters concerning only England Wales, however having now said that they would vote against the ban being lifted, along with some Labour and some Conservative MPs, David Cameron had to take note. The vote will now take place after plans to give English MPs a veto on matters affecting only England.

The petition on Change.org has so far reached 545,113* signatures, however the aim is to get to 1 million. The public outcry on social media along with the avid group of 100’s of protesters outside Parliament has meant a voice has been heard. The fight isn’t over yet as this could still be overturned, so if you’re an animal lover take just one moment, to tweet, write a Facebook status, sign the petition, write to your local MP (it’s easier than you think, I’ve done it and received a response very shortly after) anything. Baring in mind it isn’t just the foxes who suffer, any ‘unsuitable’ hounds will often be bludgeoned to death or shot not to mention the strain on the animal’s welfare both physically and mentally, both parties are victims.

Fox hunting is a barbaric and tired ‘sport’, I shudder actually referring to it as a sport; do we really want our country been seen as hunters who revel in the suffering of innocent creatures, I surely don’t.

*At the time of writing this blog

Brian May addressing protesters outside Parliament (photo courtesy of http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/fox-hunting-protest-live-brian-6062539)

Brian May addressing protesters outside Parliament (photo courtesy of http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/fox-hunting-protest-live-brian-6062539

Protesters outside Parliament today (photo courtesy of http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/fox-hunting-protest-live-brian-6062539)

Protesters outside Parliament today (photo courtesy of http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/fox-hunting-protest-live-brian-6062539)

‘Selma’ – Thoughts and Review

There is always a list, which is ever growing of films I want to see, Selma (2014) was one of them. From watching its success at the 87th Academy Awards winning Best Song for ‘Glory’ performed by John Legend and Common (who also stars in the film) and rightfully being nominated for Best Picture, I knew this was one for the list.

I was finally able to watch it this weekend and it did not disappoint, aside from the beautiful cinematography, editing and performances by the entire cast there is one thing which stood out and that was the focus on the struggle. What I mean by this is that a film about Martin Luther King Jr could easily be crafted as a biopic, however what director Ava DuVernay and writer Paul Webb established was a complete and total focus on what King and his group were able to achieve through one particular event, the march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama in 1965 to secure equal voting rights. 

The march was successful and culminated in US President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It is hard to watch in places, as it should be, it is thought provoking, as it should be, it is debate provoking, as it should be. As soon as the credits began to roll a discussion ensued as to how much have we really changed in society?

The divides between, race, Religion, gender are still evident, (to say the least) in society. In the Fall Winter Collections of New York Fashion week this year white models covered over 79% of the catwalks, which is actually a slight (emphasis on slight) decrease on last year. Think about walking into a room of 100 people and 80 of them are white, you would think it was odd, would you not?

I remember once speaking up to a middle-aged white man on the tube who was nastily mocking the Asian train driver’s accent and at one point during our discussion he asked ‘So what, are you a Muslim?’ and I responded ‘What if I was?’ As if I had no right to care about a racist stood next to me, but that is the question, so what if I was? Would he have aimed his ignorance in my direction instead? Unfortunately another example that the work is never over, Selma displays one great victory, it will make you think and wonder what still needs to be worked on today.

John Legend, Common, Ava DuVernay, David Oyelowo, and Oprah Winfrey marched in Selma for Martin Luther King Day. Credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Paramount PicturesRead more: http://www.usmagazine.com/entertainment/news/oprah-winfrey-john-legend-march-in-selma-with-film-stars-for-mlk-day-2015191#ixzz3fU4ndAXo 

John Legend, Common, Ava DuVernay, David Oyelowo, and Oprah Winfrey marched in Selma for Martin Luther King Day.
Credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Paramount PicturesRead more: http://www.usmagazine.com/entertainment/news/oprah-winfrey-john-legend-march-in-selma-with-film-stars-for-mlk-day-2015191#ixzz3fU4ndAXo